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The Captain and the Enemy (Penguin Classics) Paperback – August 30, 2005


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The Captain and the Enemy (Penguin Classics) + The Ministry of Fear: An Entertainment (Penguin Classics) + The Human Factor (Penguin Classics)
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (August 30, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143039296
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143039297
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #398,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Victor Baxter was adopted, possibly kidnapped, at age 12 into a strange family as a substitute for a child who died. As he grows older, he becomes involved in some of the suspicious enterprises of his foster father, "The Captain," an apparent gunrunner. PW called this novel "exquisitely understated, moving and graced by humorous touches."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

The master’s hand is clearly at work -- The New York Times

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Customer Reviews

This novel explores the universal human need to be loved and to give love through the eyes of a young boy.
IRA Ross
As always Greene is a great storyteller, or at least starts out here with a great tale but the plot simply ceased to interest me midway through the book.
mamabear
One of the most unusual Graham Greene books, The Captain and the Enemy is a concise read with many mysteries and questions.
Robert Tucker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
One of the last novels by Graham Greene, "The Captain and the Enemy" was written in 1988, just three years before the death of the master. Although his prose is as always enjoyable, a little detached and sentimental at the same time, in the novel there seems to be an indication that Greene was aware of the shortcomings of the old age. The books is written in a form of a careless memoir with too many holes in it, no doubt intended ones, considering the contents, but now and then Greene ventures into the reflexive mode of general narration, and I couldn't help but have an impression that I listened to an old man's voice of admission. For a writer, it must not have been easy, but then Greene kept writing all his life, and virtually all of his literary heritage has been revered to this day; a wonder the man had never won the Nobel Prize for literature - another proof that one should not hold too much value in such awards.
In a way, "The Captain and the Enemy" is full of contradictions, whether intended or not, but on the other hand, this small book incorporates all lifelong passions of Graham Greene, where yet again he touches the multidimensional subjects of interest from yet another viewpoint. The book starts in a humorous way, to quickly transform into a good-natured and intriguing story of a small boy whose life is one great patchwork, him not having a fixed place in the world, with all family connections never materializing themselves. The mother - dead as long as he remembers; the father, or 'The Devil' as everyone is fond of saying - loses the boy in chess, or was it backgammon? The boy never seems to unveil that mystery which no one bothers to tell him. Then there is the Captain, the winner of the game, whatever it was, and his woman, Lisa.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By IRA Ross on April 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
This novel explores the universal human need to be loved and to give love through the eyes of a young boy. The book does not make clear the nature of the relationship of the man (who is called "the Captain") and woman with whom he comes to live as a surrogate son. However, this lack of clarity become the focal point of the story. We, the readers, are invited to share boy's thoughts and feelings of not only the boy's perception of what this couple mean to each other, but also whether they love or even care for him. After all, the Captain is frequently absent and then, seemingly, abandons them. The boy even questions if he has ever been loved by anyone or if he is capable of loving another human being. Years later, when he travels to Central America to meet with the long absent Captain, he uncovers not only the type of work that kept the Captain so often away from home, but also how love and deep feelings for another person may exist without ever being expressed aloud. How sad that so many of us can only see this in retrospect, when it is too late.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had read a few negative online reviews of this novel, had looked at the the cover (with King Kong standing there), and I had few hopes. I find the book a remarkable book---and just those qualities that some readers disliked were qualities which impressed me. The fact that some characters, most characters here, are not "fleshed out" is just right, for these people exist in a kind of spare landscape of slim hope and love, and they are no more attached to worldly things or even common social interaction, say, Ahab. As much as anything else here (and perhaps because the world depicted is somewhat vaguely suggested), we get the feel of Graham Greene's deep and mature consciousness, for in fact we are roaming around the inside of his mind more than around any landscape populated with Dickensian people (despite what one of the back-cover reviews says). Greene wrote this novel only three years before he died, and I found it a privilege to be in the company of his maturity, his encroaching despair, his sense of bleakness and crassness, all touched by hints of the power of love. It's a book that deserve more attention, and perhaps you need to be a bit older than younger to appreciate it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Guillermo Maynez on July 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a minor novel by Greene, although his major themes are here. It was his last and the feeling that prevails is the loneliness of life, the feeling of being a permanent outsider. Victor is the son of a cruel man and a deceased mother, miserably living in boarding school. On his twelfth birthday, instead of his father a complete stranger shows up to pick him up and take him to lunch and maybe a movie. But instead of returning the boy, the stranger, known only as "The Captain", tells him he has won him at backgammon, and proposes him to go and live in London. Hating boarding school, Victor decides to go to London, where he is placed in a young woman's apartment, to live there as a kind of stepson. The woman is the occasional mistress of the Captain and former lover of Victor's father. Victor adopts the new name of Jim. The Captain, who is obviously a criminal, appears at increasingly longer intervals. In the meantime, Jim and the woman, Liza, develop a kind of mother-and-son relationship. Eventually Jim grows up and becomes a journalist. When the woman dies, Jim looks for the Captain and finds out he is living in Panama, where he travels to meet him. There he discovers the Captain is involved in drug-dealing.

Although this is not at the level of Greene's masterpieces, it is an interesting one to read, because Greene's obsessions are present in a haunting way: moral dilemmas, solitude, the strange relationships we develop with the people our fate brings us close to. Worth a try.
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